As part of Earth Day 2021, President Joe Biden has set a target for the United States to achieve a 50% to 52% reduction (from 2005 levels) in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. According to the White House, the 2030 target supports President Biden’s goals “to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” as well as limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In his Earth Day address, President Biden noted, “Our success in confronting the climate crisis will not be ours alone. It will be shaped, bolstered and ultimately won by a united pledge from global leaders to set the world on a path to a clean energy future.”
This 2030 target, known as the “nationally determined contribution” (NDC), was formally submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Biden is hosting a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate featuring world leaders from more than 40 countries, including China and Russia.
According to the New York Times, while the United States’ 2030 target is an ambitious one compared to other wealthy industrialized nations, picking the year 2005 as the baseline makes an apples-to-apples comparison to other industrialized nations in the European Union and the UK somewhat difficult. The year 2005, according to the Times, “is roughly when the nation’s fossil fuel emissions reached a peak. But European countries tend to measure their reductions from 1990, when emissions began falling across the continent as a result of early climate policies and the collapse of polluting Communist economies in the East. The later baseline makes the United States target look a bit better, because it omits a period when emissions were rising. An earlier baseline makes Europe look more ambitious, since it has been cutting for longer.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, emissions are already down 13% from the 2005 baseline, meaning the new target would need further reductions of 37% or more to reach the 50% target by 2030. ABC News reported that while the White House has not provided details “about specific policies Biden will pursue to accomplish these goals, climate policy experts said the government could use incentives on renewable energy and electric vehicles, and regulations to reduce emissions and pollution from industries like oil and gas production.”